Last time I ruined a guy's life, I insisted that the Woolly Mammoth take a fourth year of French in high school. That was five years ago. Apparently, I haven't lost my touch.
Now I'm ruining my dad's life by moving him into assisted living. It's not entirely my fault. I have to share his resentment with my sister. The difference is that he feels more betrayed by me, as I've long been his solid rock of support.
The Woolly Mammoth hasn't actually expressed gratitude for my French class insistence. He does admit that he gained many free credit hours toward his degree and an early "upperclassman" status his first year of college due to my torture.
I can hope that someday my dad may acknowledge certain benefits derived by my interference in his life. We both know he has fewer years left to come around to my way of thinking on this matter.
When I went back to work after the divorce I discouraged my early-teen sons from phoning my place of employment unless there was "blood on the rug". I needed them to handle their own petty disputes and develop their self-sufficiency so I could bring in some bacon.
"Blood on the rug" is a useful guideline. Unfortunately the past year has brought many situations where Dad had to use his Lifeline pager to get help after falls and injuries. His neighbors and relatives worried every time their phones rang that Dad had fallen again. We were all dreading the call from a stranger informing us that Dad had been unable to page Lifeline, that he was found unconscious in a pool of blood on the linoleum or rug.
Dad probably won't do a junior year abroad in Italy. He may never thank me for removing him from his home of fifty-plus years. I hope that he meets some other alert seniors, and has an improved quality of life in his new assisted-living apartment. I hope to anticipate his chatty calls instead of dreading "blood on the rug" notifications. Maybe we will get past the resentments and petty disputes. Maybe I can keep bringing home a little bacon while still being Dad's emotional support. Sure would hate to think this is my last chance to ruin a guy's life.
© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder